ZZ Top were still riding high with ‘Afterburner’ after the massive success of the previous album ‘Eliminator’. The first single off the album was “Sleeping Bag” and the follow-up to their hit “Legs”. The single came out in 1985 and went to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 which equaled the chart position of “Legs”. However, it did something no other ZZ Top song had done up to that point. It went to #1 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart making it the band’s most successful single ever. The song is written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.
The version I have is a U.S. version but it is not standard release as the original cover was different as it was just the mask. This version as the muscled out body wearing the mask with the ZZ Top name down the side which the logo is along the top on the original single. The B-Side on the single is the same with “Party on the Patio”. I found my copy on one of my many local digs as my stores seem to have an abundance of picture sleeve singles as I seem to find at least one on every trip, but usually more than one.
The song is about what the title says its about…sleeping bags. I guess it was inspired by their love them. The line “Let’s go out to Egypt ’cause it’s in the plan / Sleep beside the pharoahs in the shifting sand” is reference to an old sleeping bag that Billy had that he said looked like a mummy case. Maybe there is some double entendre’s going on with it, but I think it is just about sleeping in a sleeping bag.
Musically, the song is a solid rocker and Billy was able to get a really harsh guitar tone from his amps that really sounds cool. It is a great riff. The drums sound like they are from an electric drum machine as there are a lot of electronic elements throughout. Billy sings it as Billy sings and the song is pretty silly overall, but it is catchy and they were riding high and could do no wrong at that time.
The video for the song is the last one to feature the 3 Eliminator Girls and the famous car. It introduced the Afterburner Space Shuttle. The video starred Nancy from ‘Nightmare on Elm Street whose name is Heather Langenkamp as well as John Dye from ‘Touched by an Angel’. The video is about Heather’s character’s house being broken in to by some thieves and she grabs the money and is on the run. She runs in to John Dye’s character who helps her on the run along with ZZ Top and the Eliminator girls. As with all their videos, it is a lot of fun.
The B-Side is “Party on the Patio” off the band’s 1981 album ‘El Loco’. The song has Dusty Hill on the vocals as he always got a song or two on the albums to sing. It is simple rocker with that Texas swagger and is really a full on party song. Some killer guitar work from Gibbons and a great solo. Mr. Beard lays down the beat with some great cowbell and fills (Real drums this time around). Dusty sings his all while laying down a great bass line keeping the groove. Party on dude!!
And there you have it. Another great single in the 7″ Singles Collection I am putting together. If it is an 80’s rock song with a picture sleeve, I’m buying it. Thanks for stopping by and see you again real soon.